"Our Guide to the World of the Unknown"
SEASON 3 EPISODE 18. January 24 1961.
SYNOPSIS: Series host John Newland and a group of researchers fly to a remote village in Mexico to explore
whether a special mushroom with hallucinogenic properties can enhance extrasensory perception and telepathy.
They meet with a native spiritual leader, a brujo, who allows them to sample mushrooms. Upon returning to
America, Newland also ingests mushrooms in a laboratory and is tested for an increase in psychic perception.
COMMENTARY: This groundbreaking One Step Beyond episode is the most famous and most popular of the
series. It is both a cultural travelogue and an entheogenic documentary about host John Newland's journey to
Mexico, hoping to learn the truth about mushrooms that are rumored to enhance telepathic ability. As Newland
reports before the camera, there are "no actors, no script . . . for this psychic report can only be recorded at the
moment it happens" . . .
. . . with beautiful and dangerous locations, "The Sacred Mushroom" may just be the most amazing half hour in
television anthology history. Series hosts Boris Karloff, Rod Serling, and Alfred Hitchcock certainly never made
the same "one step beyond" that John Newland took so boldly in this episode. And in 1961 America it must have
been downright disconcerting for viewers to see a TV host getting stoned right before their eyes. It's another
example of how One Step Beyond puts its money where its mouth is and earnestly attempts to explore new, even
dangerous, ideas in accurate fashion . . .
For a much more extensive and detailed commentary, from which the
foregoing is adapted, see John Kenneth Muir's excellent chapter on
this episode in "An Analytical Guide to Television's One Step Beyond":